Star Geelong Cats forward Tom Hawkins is set to take a big step forward in his recovery from a foot injury this week.

Hawkins, who has played 327 games for the Cats since his debut in 2007, was still as important as ever during the club's push to the premiership in 2022 - the third of his career.

The 34-year-old played through the 2022 finals campaign, kicking eight goals on the way to the flag. His 2022 season, despite being in the twilight of his career, saw a fifth All-Australian team nomination, and his 11th straight season as Geelong's leading goal-kicker.

The incredible form was a key catalyst behind Geelong's push to the flag, with Hawkins then going in for surgery to repair his foot during October.

Hawkins played through the injury during the finals series, with the club holding no guarantees that he would be fit for Round 1 as a result of the surgery.

"Our medical team and Tom have gone through an extensive process which has included consultation with specialists to determine the best approach and have come to the decision for Tom to undergo surgery this week," Geelong general manager of football Simon Lloyd said in a statement at the time.

"Tom is incredibly meticulous in his training and preparation, and we know he'll have the same application to his recovery.

"We will take the time and diligence required to have him return to playing in early 2023."

According to The Age, Hawkins' recovery from the surgery, which saw him in a moon boot until December, is progressing well, and he is expected to run outdoors for the first time this week.

Hawkins will not be rushed back, and as a result, Geelong reportedly expect him to be ready to return 'early in the season.'

Missing the opening rounds would be the first time Hawkins has missed a game since the preliminary final of 2019 when he was suspended.

Geelong start their season on Friday, March 17 with a battle against the Collingwood Magpies at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.